Zion Williamson returning to New Orleans, will be around team as he continues rehab

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Zion Williamson isn’t close to playing in an NBA game — he isn’t even doing full weight-bearing exercises yet — but he will start doing his rehab around the team.

Zion is leaving Portland and returning to New Orleans to continue his rehab at team facilities and to be around the Pelicans as they make a push into the play-in. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.

Zion, however, is not traveling with the team on road trips.

Zion had offseason foot surgery that has not healed as fast as he expected — Zion initially said he wanted to play opening night — and he has yet to play in a game this season. Amid rumors of him needing a second surgery, the Pelicans released a statement saying his rehab is progressing.

Williamson recently faced criticism after newly-acquired Pelican CJ McCollum said he had not spoken to Zion almost 10 days after the trade (they have since spoken several times, according to McCollum). Reports of Zion not being an engaged teammate and his lack of trust in GM David Griffin went public.

Being around his teammates is at least a step in the right direction and a step toward him returning to the court. Eventually.

The Pelicans, winners of four straight, sit as the No. 10 seed in the West and are just half a game back (one in the loss column) from the Lakers just ahead of them.